I’m sure that our second bishop, Thomas Hickey, had no idea whatsoever that his good work of 100 years ago would evolve into the organization described in these pages.
He laid the foundation for the growth of Catholic Charities by planning the first centralized diocesan collection for Catholic Charities in the fall of 1910, creating the Catholic Charities Guild in 1912, facilitating the passage of legislation in 1917 establishing Catholic Charities agencies as corporate entities, and he joined with George Eastman in 1918 in establishing the communitywide fundraising entity now known as the United Way.
Nor was he the only bishop to make significant contributions to Catholic Charities. Each of my predecessors has been a strong supporter of this important work.
Bishop John O’Hern made the decision in 1931 to purchase the Columbus Civic Center, which served as the home for Catholic Charities and the Catholic Youth Organization for 60 years.
Cardinal Edward Mooney played a major role in encouraging Catholic Charities to respond to the needs of families during the Great Depression and was an outspoken advocate for racial justice long before it became popular.
During his 30-year tenure, Bishop James Kearney made innumerable contributions to the work of Catholic Charities: promotion of Camp Stella Maris, creation of the Diocesan Committee on Scouting, overseeing the formal establishment of Catholic Family Center and the creation of Catholic Family Services in Auburn, to name a few.
Bishop Fulton Sheen brought to our diocese a new vision of service to the poor with the establishment of the position of urban vicar for the poor and of "secular missions" to reach out to the poor in rural communities.
My immediate predecessor, Bishop Joseph Hogan, was responsible for the growth of the Office of Human Development and creation of the Office of Social Ministry, which became the vehicle for coordination and collaboration in diocesan charitable activities. He also promoted the principles of lay participation and subsidiary arising from the Second Vatican Council.
My own work in the diocese has been greatly assisted by my vicars general — the late Bishop Dennis Hickey and Fathers John Mulligan and Joseph Hart — as well as the efforts of countless wonderful volunteers and outstanding staff leadership. Today, nearly 300 volunteers oversee the work of our various charitable entities. I would be remiss if I did not recognize here the contributions of five staff leaders who have served tirelessly for all or much of my time here: Carolyn Portanova, president and CEO of Catholic Family Center; Paul Pickering, executive director of Catholic Charities Community Services; Giovina Caroscio, who served more than 20 years as executive director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes; Tony Barbaro, associate director of Catholic Charities; and our Diocesan Director Jack Balinsky.
Even before Jesus gave as the second great commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, it was said in the Old Testament that one could not know God without serving the anawim: the widow, the orphan, the stranger.
I am very proud of our efforts to respond to these calls to service.
Your brother in Christ,
Matthew H. Clark
Bishop of Rochester